Thresher Designed to Use With a Horse Power

Red River Special thresher advertisement

Advertisement for the 1917 Nichols & Shepard Red River Special threshing machine geared for use with a horse power.

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Regarding David Ruark’s inquiry as to the identity of the skeletal remains of an old thresher found by members of the Washington-based Lewis-Clark Antique Power Club in the April 2009 issue of Farm Collector (page 4), here’s an illustration from a 1917 Nichols & Shepard catalog showing a similar right-angle gear drive.

This type of device was used by several thresher manufacturers designed to get power not from a belt, as was the normal practice, but from a contraption known as a “horse power.”

A horse power was a merry-go-round-type machine that took the circular sweeping motion of a horse hitched to a pole, connected to the center axis of the horse power. Through a series of gears, the device multiplied and transformed the animal’s muscle power into mechanical power, which exited the bottom of the machine as a spinning shaft routed up to the coupling on the input of this gear drive, much like a modern tractor’s PTO shaft drive.

As to the ultimate identity of these bones, there doesn’t seem to be much left to go on, but a careful examination of the removable teeth on the cylinder may provide a clue. Most major thresher makers cast an easily identifiable logo (or at least a traceable part number) into them.


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